Facebook was aware of the extremism of many users and the avalanche of misinformation related to the 2020 US presidential election, but it did not react according to whistleblower documents, Francis Hogan, obtained by various American newspapers.
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These discoveries are the latest in a long line, since the first wave of investigations published by the Wall Street Journal in September thanks to internal reports relayed by this former employee of the California group.
On Friday, articles in the New York Times, Washington Post and even NBC focused on Facebook’s role in the deeply polarizing political life in the United States.
In early November, a few days after the poll, an analyst told his colleagues, for example, that 10% of the political content viewed by US users of the platform were messages confirming that the vote had been rigged, according to the New York Times. .
These baseless rumors, launched by former President Donald Trump, angered many conservatives and conspirators, which culminated in the Capitol riots on January 6.
The Republican billionaire’s supporters had invaded Congress that day while ratifying Democrat Joe Biden. Five people were killed during or shortly after the attack.
In the process, Facebook, like Twitter and other major platforms, banned Donald Trump and the extremist movements involved in the riots.
But according to new findings published Friday, California group employees believe they could have better foreseen the problem.
This information was extracted from thousands of internal documents that Francis Hogan filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission.
At the beginning of October, I reiterated to US senators that the company’s leaders, Mark Zuckerberg at its head, “fund their profits with our security.”
It had previously leaked studies showing that Facebook is aware of the psychological problems of teenage girls who are overexposed to the seemingly “perfect” lives and bodies of influencers on Instagram.
This is the common thread between these discoveries: the social media giant knew of the problems, but chose, for the most part, to ignore them, according to the whistleblower and other anonymous sources.
Friday’s articles refer to a report titled “Carol’s Journey to Qunun.”
Carol Smith, a “conservative mother from North Carolina,” was a fake account created by a researcher, prompted by Facebook to study the platform’s role in attracting users.
According to this researcher, in the summer of 2019, Carol Smith was exposed by the algorithm of the social network to “a torrent of extremist, conspiratorial and shocking content”, including groups from the QAnon movement.
Faced with this new wave of criticism, Facebook issued a statement reminding of its significant investments to clean up its platforms and support the democratic process.
“But the responsibility for the insurgency rests with those who break the law and those who incite them to do so,” said Jay Rosen, vice president of the Civic Integrity Group.
This defense has little chance of satisfying the elected officials who have gathered against the social network.
Especially since the flood of revelations does not stop: a coalition of ten newspaper organizations, from CNN to the world, is preparing to publish articles based on these documents, according to the specialist website The Information.
A new whistleblower has emerged, according to a Washington Post report on Friday.
As a former member of the Civil Integrity Team, he filed a statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 13, accusing Facebook of putting profits above humanitarian issues.
In this document, the former employee in particular lists comments made in 2017, when the company was deciding how best to manage the controversy related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election, via its platform.
“It’s going to be a flash in the pan. The elected officials will be groaning. And in a few weeks, they’ll have moved on. Meanwhile, we’re printing money downstairs and all is well,” said Tucker Pounds, a member of the Facebook communications team.
According to the Washington Post, the second whistleblower asserts in his testimony that Facebook executives regularly undermine efforts to combat disinformation and hate speech for fear of angering Donald Trump and his allies, and not to risk losing users’ attention, which is necessary to generate huge profits. .
“Evil thinker. Music scholar. Hipster-friendly communicator. Bacon geek. Amateur internet enthusiast. Introvert.”